WHAT TO DO IN TOWN
THE PERFECT BACKDROP
Hillsborough is a charming and quaint village in the heart of North Carolina with award winning restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and Southern hospitality.
Local Historic Sites and Museums to Visit:
The Alexander Dickson House - Hillsborough Visitor’s Center
The Visitor's Center, located in the Alexander Dickson House at 150 E. King Street in Hillsborough, offers a variety of historic walking tours. Stop by to get more information about the history of Hillsborough, learn about historic sites to visit, visit the gift shop, pick up a self-guided walking tour book, or an Outlandish Hillsborough T-shirt.
Beginning August 6th - The Hillsborough Visitor's Center will host a knitting circle on Tuesday afternoons, from 1:30pm-3pm. Anyone interested in knitting a shawl similar to one worn by Claire in the Starz Outlander series is invited to join in the fun. An experienced knitter will be on hand to demonstrate and teach the necessary steps to make this beautiful shawl. The helpful and experienced staff at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop will be happy to assist customers in purchasing the appropriate yarn for this timeless project. Wear your completed shawl to Outlander Ayr!
Scottish Independence and American Independence
The North Carolina state legislature met in Hillsborough during the American Revolution. The proposed Constitution was controversial in our state and delegates meeting in Hillsborough in July 1788 initially voted against it, until a Bill of Rights was added.
William Hooper was one of three North Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence and made his home in Hillsborough. The William Hooper Chapter of the DAR will host an exhibit on the Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution, and the Scottish influence in those two documents. There were over twenty signers of the Declaration of Independence that were of Scottish descent.
Antebellum all-girls' academy that was open from 1837 until 1857 and run by Anna and Robert Burwell. Over 200 girls attended the school and many others were enslaved there, including Elizabeth Keckly, who went on to become Mary Todd Lincoln's modiste. Located on 319 N. Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
October 5 – October 20 | Times Vary by day, please see description below
The Burwell School walls will be bursting with Colonial and Revolutionary period items on loan from our sister institution, the Orange County Historical Museum. Everything from the clothes people were wearing and revealing portraits of famous history-makers to a Colonial batterie de cuisine and toys to bring the period to life can be seen over the long Outlandish weekend. Come and learn about the role Hillsborough played in helping our country in its quest for freedom.
Outlandish Revolution Open House | Saturday, October 5th, 2019 | 1:00pm - 4:00pm
The Revolutionary War period is a uniquely interesting part of Hillsborough’s story. Established 1754, Hillsborough is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina and was the unofficial capital of the backcountry during the Colonial period. Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham and other major towns wouldn't exist for at least four decades. William Hooper, one of Hillsborough’s favorite sons, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. British General Cornwallis occupied the town in 1781 to rest his troops and recruit loyalists – after six days, they left with few, if any new soldiers. Hillsborough was also the site of the North Carolina Provincial Congress at the start of the war and hosted the state’s Constitutional Convention of 1788 once the war was over. Get a first-hand look at one of the most historically significant towns in North Carolina at the Outlandish Revolution Open House. Exhibits, DAR ladies in costume, harp music, weaving demo, and the bounty of Scotland and Autumn with shortbread and heirloom apples. This family-friendly event is free and accessible to all.
ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY:
Orange County’s Main Library is in downtown Hillsborough. Home to the Rebecca B. Wall Local History Collection, the library was built on the site of the Nash-Kollock School, a school for young women that was open in the late 1880s and sits across the street from Hillsborough’s Old Cedar Lane. Today, an active community gathering place, the library fosters fun and lifelong learning where all are welcomed. Located at 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
The Influence of Native Americans, African Americans, and Scottish Highlanders in Colonial North Carolina | Monday, September 30th, 2019 from 6:00-8:00pm | Main Library in Hillsborough
A round table discussion on the history and heritage of Colonial North Carolina featuring historians Dr. Arwin Smallwood (Chairman of the Department of History and Political Science at North Carolina A&T State University) and Dr. Michael Newton (Technology Lead, Carolina Digital Humanities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). This limited seating event is free.
Screening and Discussion of Braveheart | Friday, October 11, 2019 from 6:30-9:30pm | Main Library in Hillsborough | Adults
Join us for a special, after hours screening of the film, Braveheart (1995, Rated R) accompanied by a discussion of the factors that led to multiple uprisings of Scots in their homeland throughout history and their subsequent settlement in North Carolina. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Registration is preferred at bit.ly/ocplevent. NOTE: This event is intended for adults. Because it takes place after the library closes, attendees will need to arrive no later than 6:40pm. For more events at OCPL, visit orangecountylibrary.org.
Old Orange County Courthouse:
Built in 1844 and served as the seat of Orange County government until 1954, when the new courthouse was built. The courthouse is still in use by the court, but it is free and open to the public. Located on 104 E. King Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278
Outlandish Hillsborough will start off with, of course, a wee bit of piping on the Courthouse lawn Friday night, October 11th.
Bronze plaque marks the exact location where six Regulators were hanged on June 19, 1771. The Regulators were defeated at the Battle of Alamance by Royal Governor Tryon and his troops.
Colonial and Revolutionary War Guided Walking Tour | Saturday, October 5th and 12th | 11:00 am | Tour costs $6 per person
Experience American Colonial history through the unique perspective of one of North Carolina’s oldest and most historically significant towns with an historic guided walking tour of downtown Hillsborough. Established in 1754 as the seat of government for Orange County, Hillsborough’s colonial legacy and its importance in North Carolina and American history can be seen throughout town. The tour begins at the Hillsborough Visitors Center, located in the eighteenth century Alexander Dickson Farm House, and guides visitors to a variety of historic places from the site of a 1790s African American-owned distillery to the Regulator marker and the grave of one of North Carolina’s signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Old Town Cemetery:
Informal records date the cemetery back to 1754 and it is one of the oldest public burial grounds in North Carolina. William Hooper, one of North Carolina's signers of the Declaration of Independence is buried here. Located at 115 E Corbin St, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
Colonial Luminaries of Olde Hillsborough - Walking Tour
Tour begins at Olde Town Cemetery entrance alongside the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church 102 West Tryon Street.
William Hooper, James Hogg, and the infamous Edmund Fanning. These men, along with many others and their families, faced an uncertain future in tumultuous times. They all helped to shape our colonial town and give us a window into Hillsborough’s important role leading up to independence from England. Journey through time from the cemetery, to the colonial business area highlighted by taverns, mercantile businesses, and law offices then on to the final stop - the Courthouse Square. Although this tour begins in the old cemetery, the lives of these colonial luminaries will definitely be brought to life. $10 per person. Limit 15. Not recommended for children under 12. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The tour will take place Friday, October 11th at 5:30-6:30PM. Meet at 5:30PM at Old Town Cemetery.
Margaret Lane Cemetery:
Originally called the Old Slave Cemetery, this site started as a burial ground for Peter Brown Ruffin’s slaves. The last recorded burial was in 1931. Located at 218 Calvin St, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
Orange County Historical Museum:
Variety of exhibits focusing on the history of Hillsborough and Orange County, starting with the early Native American settlements and going through the 1950s. Located next to the Old Town Cemetery and down the street from the Burwell School. Located on 201 N. Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
Ayr Mount Historic Site:
Ayr Mount is located between the Indian Trading Path and Eno River on property once owned by the Few family: James Few was the first Regulator hanged at Alamance Battleground. In 1799 William Kirkland of Ayr Scotland and his wife Margaret Scott bought 500 acres that included Few’s Tavern. Ayr Mount built in 1815 was home to four generations of the Kirkland family and many enslaved individuals. Tours delve into family history, the enslaved community, plantation life, fine architecture, and museum quality furniture and decorative arts. A special exhibit will run from Sept. 18 through October 20 that features Scottish artifacts, 18th century engravings of Scotland, Scottish immigration patterns, interactions with Native Americans and African Americans, and Scottish curiosities. The Exhibit can be viewed during regularly scheduled tours. Located at 376 St. Mary’s Rd, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
Featuring Scottish artifacts, 18th and 19th century engravings of Scotland, immigration patterns, food, curiosities and a wee bit of fun facts. Of special interest is a ca. 1930 Buchanan Child’s Dancer Ensemble on loan from the Scottish Tartans Museum and Heritage Center, Inc. in Franklin, NC. This sublime ensemble is in pristine condition and includes sporrans, jewelry, hose, doublet, waistcoat and other original pieces.
Site where the Battle of Alamance ended the War of Regulation in 1771. Located on 5803 N.C. 62 S, Burlington, NC 27215.
Chapel Hill Public Library
Find out more about North Carolina’s colonial history, our regional history, find a bonnie tourism guide book, and of course check out a barry Outlander book. The Chapel Hill Library will have a display of Outlander and North Carolina books ready for your perusal. Located at 100 Library Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.